|(Jan. 28, 2021, 10:17 a.m.) -- The City of Long Beach bent state COVID-19 rules to enable Mayor Robert Garcia and City Council members to obtain vaccinations ahead of others prioritized for the vaccines by likening the electeds to emergency services workers.
A carefully written statement by the City's lead spokesman leaves unclear if the Mayor and Councilmembers participated in that decision benefiting themselves and who among LB;s nine Councilmembers, if any, were ultimately vaccinated.) Other LB residents -- including those 65+ amd teachers and educator sector employees prioritized for the vaccines -- encountered maddening digital responses indicating appointments are unavailable and told to wait on a waiting list or try back later.
City of LB Chief Public Affairs Officer Kevin Lee told LBREPORT.com:
"The State provided the ability to vaccinate select emergency workers in Phase 1B. As such, the City started vaccination of emergency responders, as well as employees that are critical to allow the City to function during emergency response efforts for COVID-19 and other emergencies that may arise. As part of the City’s emergency response efforts for continuity of government, the mayor and the councilmembers were provided the ability to be vaccinated."
The City statement leaves unclear exactly who made the decision. Did it include Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers from which they benefited personally? How many of LB's nine Councilmembers were vaccinated as a result of the decision? Were their staffmembers and/or family members also allowed to, in effect, skip to the head of the line?
As reported on Jan. 27 by LBREPORT.com, a city management spokesperson said the City has roughly 15,000 persons on its COVID-19 65+ vaccine "waiting list." LBREPORT.com has previously reported that at least 90% of teachers and educational personnel have been unable to receive vaccines. LBREPORT.com has asked city management to provide the number of emergency services sector persons remain on city waiting lists (response pending.)
LBREPORT.com began pursuing this story over a week ago after a Jan 14 city release simply asserted: "Phase 1B also includes adults aged 65 and older, who will be vaccinated beginning Saturday, Jan. 16; food sector employees, who will be vaccinated beginning Tuesday, Jan. 19; and education sector employees, who will be vaccinated beginning the week of Jan. 25 "
We requested from the City, and from CA's Dept. of Public Health, a citation(s) to legal authority letting city officials to deem themselves eligible for vaccines based on their titles alone (as opposed to their actual duties.) Apart from the City spokesman's offered narrative, we've received no rsponse.. .
Within the past twelve hours, LATimes.com reported that LA Mayor Eric Garcetti had received his first vaccination a week ago. It cited "medical personnel" for the decision, describing L.A. Mayor Garcetti as a front-line worker.
Unlike L.A.'s Mayor, Long Beach's Mayor (under LB's City Charter) doesn't have major executive powers, has no policy setting authority, and policy-setting LB Councilmembers work only part time and since COVID-19 hive met remotely from home or other locations;.
On January 14, this writer (65+ and immune suppressed fighting cancer) submitted an appointment request to the City of Long Beach's indicated website and received the following response: "You will be contacted if an appointment becomes available. Be safe!." As of January 28 at dawn, no further response has been received from the system. Attempts to make an appointment via the City's "VaxLB" page also indicated appointments weren't available but might be at some point in the future [no date indicated.]
On Jan. 19, this writer received an email from a city management staffer (in the course of discussing another matter) who offered to "look into" what happened and "if you are still having troubles to make sure that you are able to get scheduled." We responded in writing that we would NOT accept any city management intervention in scheduling a personal appointment for us. (If appointments become available for others in our category, we'll gladly join in seeking one.)
On the afternoon of Jan, 22, we received an unsolicited telephone call from a city staffer who offered to arrange an appointment fori us. We reiterated that we will NOT accept management intervention in scheduling a personal appointment and will await an opportunity to obtain an appointment as they become available to others. .
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